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Russia To Host Meeting On Afghanistan Conflict, Push To Include Taliban

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani (left)

Russia said it will convene a conference of regional powers this month on settling the Afghanistan conflict and push again to include the Taliban.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed on February 7 during a press conference with his counterpart from Kabul Salahuddin Rabbani that Moscow will host the meeting in mid-February with representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Iran, and India.

"We are expecting that our partners will be represented at a high level. Most have confirmed their participation," Lavrov said.

Lavrov repeated Moscow's stance that "the Taliban must be included in a constructive dialogue" to help find a solution to halt worsening violence in the nation, which has been at war for 15 years.

Russia's meeting does not include NATO powers who have had troops in the country since the American-led invasion in late 2001, but Lavrov said Moscow was hoping better ties with .U.S President Donald Trump will jump-start cooperation over Afghanistan.

Moscow -- which fought a disastrous military campaign in Afghanistan during the Soviet era -- has increasingly asserted itself as a broker for solving the world's conflicts since intervening in the Syrian war in 2015.

Based on reporting by AFP, Interfax, and TASS